Monday, 29 August 2016

FB Discussions ... Of cycling and cliques and Hind Swaraj

Someone wrote to me that its nice I cycle, and that her husband also cycles, and there would be lots in common. Weird.
As I see, there are enough people in the streets of every city who cycle. Maids going to work, men with lunch boxes, and many more. Friendly people who smile, who help if the chain gets stuck, or if the saree gets caught in the chain. Does English-speaking people who cycle become a seperate caste among the cyclists ? I begged off.
Palanivelu Rangasamy There is nothing wrong in their appreciation. It has lot of meaning when you renounce things on your own. Don't you think there is a difference between fasting and starvation? Vivekananda himself said if there is nothing to renounce, sanyas has no meaning.
Aparna Krishnan I do not like English-speaking-cyclists becoming a clique. At least i am not a member of that ! Thats all I am saying.
Aparna Krishnan Also when the 'renouncer' continues to have a consumerism 100 time that of the simpler neighbours, i think any sense of superiority gets put away. That would be my case - starting from the FB as a case in point !
Mark Johnston Here in Scotland I may go to work on a vintage steel bicycle and be passed by or pass someone pretending to be a racer on a 'high tech' short lived bicycle which they have wasted 2 to 4 lakh rupees on. They also feel the need to advertise companies on their stretch nylon outfits and polystyrene helmets. To me a bicycle is a practical, ecological and affordable way to get from A to B not a consumerist status symbol to be paraded around.
Aparna Krishnan I dont even know those circles. Maybe they are not there here much. But even among ordinary people like us who cycle for transport, there is no need to those who know English to pat themselves on their backs as being 'sensitive' compared to others.
Mark Johnston I like to think that the nod, smile or wave we get from other folk on bicycles simply represents a friendly acknowledgement of our shared humanity and our more human centred choice in a car centric culture rather than representing a smug assumed superiority. I could easily be wrong but I'm happy believing that. 
Aparna Krishnan Oh, in india it is usually only the poorer people who are on cycles, apart from children. And here we dont usually 'wave out'. I think its cultural. And yes, no one is smug or anything. Everyone is simply doing what they are able to.
Aparna Krishnan In India the 'English speaking' are today a 'superior breed' compared to the 'vernacular spaeaking'. It is a pervasive fact. Those wall are what need to break down, and that was what I was referring to, or reacing to, in this context also.
Mark Johnston I remember a friend in Chandigarh nearly being knocked of her bicycle by a car. She shouted at the driver in English. Her reasoning was that if you used English with confidence you were usually assumed to be of higher status and treated better. I've also been in places with someone who was paler than me due to albinism and it was interesting and sad to see how many people's attitude to him changed when they realised he was from India. The colonial legacy is a strange thing.
Aparna Krishnan One of our saddest burdens. Because it has been internalised deeply - both the sense of superiority, and the sense of inferiority.
Mark Johnston Last year we had a referendum in Scotland. Many people voted for independence as we thought it was way past time for us to stop being a colony of the discredited British empire. Too many were afraid to let go of the coat tails and believed the establishment's threats of economic disaster so we currently remain subjects of the crown and empire. I've been persuading people to read Hind Swaraj to encourage a vision of a Scotland that is truly independent and not just subject to a version of Westminster style rule by an elite of Scots. I've wandered off the subject of bicycles a bit 

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